Thinking out loud
There are times when we are forced to stand back and think. Things happen, things are said and we begin to ponder about them. At times we hear something and we get that niggling feeling that it just doesn’t set right with us.
We are instructed in the scriptures:
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Some of us are naturally optimists while others are naturally pessimists. We are often told that when we look at a pint glass that contains half a pint of water the optimist sees a glass that is half full, whereas the pessimists sees a glass that is half empty. The fact of the matter is that the glass still does not contain a full pint which ever way we look at it.
The important thing is NOT whether the glass is half full or half empty, the important thing is whether or not I have faith that God can use what little I have to His glory.
There is such a thing as a false optimism. I am placing my faith in what I can see. I have half a glass of water and “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”. (Philippians 4:13) Satan tempted Christ in this manner. “Jump of this building because “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in [their] hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:12-13)””
A false optimism which would have resulted in Christ’s death. But doesn’t the scripture not say that we can do all things through Christ? Let us consider what the scripture is referring to:
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
So we see that the scripture is referring to contentment, that we can be content in whatever state we find ourselves in, whether we have much or little, whether we are at liberty or in prison, so that in all circumstances we can be content! Very different from the false optimism that we should be expecting to do the impossible for God and anything less is because we are somehow deficient in our faith!
How many lives have been blighted because people were told to reject medical treatment because someone had prayed for them? How many have been led into condemnation because they were made to feel inadequate because they weren’t “moving in the miraculous” or they weren’t living a sinlessly perfect life? A false optimism will do that!
Then there are those who, like the man who hid his talent away for fear of failing his master, are pessimistic in their Christian life. There are whole churches and movements who confidently state, “We do not evangelize,” “We do not Preach:” as if there was some virtue in keeping the Gospel message from this lost world! Somehow they believe that preaching the Gospel only “puts people off from becoming Christians!” whereas if we only do good, feed the poor, champion the underdog and stand up for justice and pop the name of Jesus in there now and again this will make Jesus attractive to people and make them want to become Christians and fill the churches!
Yet Christ stated:
they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. (Matthew 24:9)
Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. (1 John 3:13)
In fact at the height of His popularity, when Jesus had literally thousands of followers, he taught something that turned almost 99% of His followers away from Him:
From that [time] many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
(John 6: 66-67)
We are to walk by faith, IN faith. We are to believe Him. Let us, therefore encourage one another,
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:4-5)
meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. (1 Corinthians 8:8-9)
So let us take stock of our lives and humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord. Let us take heed to the commandment of Christ:
go ye and learn what [that] meaneth, I will have mercy, andnot sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Matthew 9:13)
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